NFL: Former Humble ISD stars Patrick Taylor Jr., Sewo Olonilua ready to shine at NFL Combine
HOUSTON – Derrick Henry proved in 2020 there is still a market for big-bruising running backs in the NFL.
Behind Henry's running style – which garnered him the rushing title – the Tennessee Titans rode his playoff success all the way to the AFC Championship game. In turn, he may have also helped future draft prospects, who have similar build and run with the same style.
"He pretty much helped me out," former Kingwood High School and TCU-standout Sewo Olonilua said. "At the end of the day every team is looking for that big back to carry the load. I watch Derrick Henry; I feel like I relate to him."
Olonilua fits the mold at 6-foot-2 5/8 (tallest running back at the NFL Combine this weekend) and 246 pounds. His former high school rival, Patrick Taylor Jr. of Memphis does so as well.
The 6-foot-3, 227-pound back had a down year for the Tigers due to injury in the season opener but had a breakout junior season rushing 208 times for 1,122 yards – his best collegiate campaign.
"It's been a tough one," Taylor Jr. said about the journey here. "It has by no means been an easy journey for me. I don't feel like I got the recognition I deserved coming out of high school or shoot even now. I'm thankful for everything I've been through up and to this point."
Been a minute... pic.twitter.com/mTtti4rv2U
— PATRICK TAYLOR JR (@PatrickTaylor_6) December 13, 2019
What he hopes, just like Olonilua, is that Henry – who is listed at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds – and his success rushing for 1,540 yards this year and 1,059 yards last season, fuels their own draft stock.
"The way teams are using their running backs these days is perfect," Taylor Jr. said. "The market for running backs are just great right now. Just by the way they are using all different types of running backs in their offense."
As the 2020 NFL Combine revs up in Indianapolis on Thursday, both Olonilua and Taylor Jr. will get their shots to show off their skills to all 32 teams.
They were selected to be part of the 337-member combine group.
"It means a lot, this is a dream of mine of being on that stage, I've always dreamed of being there," Olonilua, who rushed for 1,624 yards in his collegiate career, said. "At the end of the season I didn't know if I'd be invited. I didn't have the season I wanted but with the NFLPA game I was able to show them."
Taylor Jr. added: "I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to be there. I'm just going to take it all in. I remember as a young kid, starting at the age of four, I always had the dream of playing in the NFL. I always watched the NFL Combine with my dad and saying I wanted to be on that stage. I'm going to take in the experience because not many people get to experience something like that."
The NFL Combine is a grueling few days of drills, team interviews and measurements to give teams an idea of who could fit their roster.
This is their "once in a lifetime" chance to show teams they are worthy of one of those coveted picks or at least a deal after the draft.
"I still feel like I have a lot to prove," Taylor Jr. said. "I don't feel like I've gotten the recognition I've deserved and by no means am I entitled to anything. I feel like I just need to showcase my ability and show that I'm worthy of being one of the best running backs in the NFL."
Olonilua added: "It's crazy but I always thought it would happen. I've always worked hard. Had that dream to make it to the NFL. I always had that in my sights. I'm just going to let them know who I am. Let them know I'm a good guy who loves football. I work hard."